Human rights laws are being used by immigrants to sabotage fast-track deportations.
The Morton Hall detention centre was reopened last May. Since then, just about 39 people have been deported. This was made known by the Agency officials.
Another 116 inmates left the former prison in the same period. However, the agency is unaware of the total number of those that remained in the country, those that were bailed or those that were transferred to another detention centre.
Morton Hall was supposed to speed up deportations. However, the Home Office said efforts to deport illegal settlers were being hampered by the Human Rights Act. According to the agency, detainees are using the right to a family life, enshrined in the Act, to mount legal bids to leave in Britain.
Last night, officials swore to stop the expensive appeals by reforming the system.
In the past Morton Hall was a women’s prison in Lincolnshire. It was reopened to serve as an immigration removal centre after a £6million refurbishment. Facilities available to the inmates are computer suites, a hairdressing salon, 24-hour medical care, library and a wide range of sports facilities.
It is one of 13 secure centres set up to hold external prisoners, failed asylum seekers and over stayers before being deported. It is estimated to cost taxpayers almost £17million this year, including more than £10million in running costs.
According to Priti Patel, the Tory MP who uncovered the statistics, “Illegal immigrants should be thrown out of Britain and not left to live a life of luxury at the expense of Britain’s hard-pressed taxpayers.
“The last Labour government left a horrendous mess in the immigration system and ministers in the Home Office today must change the law to remove illegal immigrants from Britain and protect taxpayers from these outrageous costs.”
When Damian Green, the immigration minister, opened the centre, he said that a “tough system of enforcement and removal is one of the cornerstones our reformed asylum system”.
However, today’s figures appear to show there is far to go before the present structure of controls is completely restructured.
Last night, a Home Office spokesman said: “Detaining and removing foreign criminals who flout the rules is vital to protecting the public and to safeguarding the economy by controlling immigration.
“It is not acceptable that foreign offenders are winning more than 60 per cent of allowed appeals to stay under the right to a family life.
“We will shortly be changing the immigration rules to reflect the public interest in seeing the removal from the UK of those who should be removed.”
Separate statistics available yesterday made clear the full cost of “bribing” illegal immigrants to leave Britain.
Over £24.4million has been released to about 20,000 illegal immigrants and foreign prisoners who agreed to leave the UK under the Facilitated Return Scheme.
Between October 2006 and 2010 the scheme cost just under half that amount but after a massive expansion the bill rocketed last year to £13million.